CoCreate Comes to Visit

8 Feb, 2006 By: Jeffrey Rowe

OneSpace product suite: New versions and visions for 3D

A couple of technical marketing folks from CoCreate just left my office after demonstrating some of the features and capabilities of the new 2006 versions of its 3D design tools of CoCreate’s OneSpace 2006 product suite – Designer Modeling 2006 and Model Manager 2006.

The products they demonstrated were new 64-bit versions of the software and were run on a 64-bit HP XW9300 workstation with dual AMD Opteron processors and 6GB RAM, under Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. The processing speed based on the CPUs and the RAM was quickly evident and impressive, especially when larger assemblies were added to the mix.

Also helping to speed things up are CoCreate’s so-called lightweight models, which are graphical representations of models that require only a fraction of system resources compared with “rich” models. However, if you work with models of varying complexity, you can switch relatively easily between lightweight and rich models.

CoCreate says it has customers who routinely handle assemblies of 200,000-plus parts, so the 64-bit versions of the software, combined with lightweight models, should significantly benefit those who deal with assemblies of this magnitude.

Lean Development

The philosophy behind CoCreate’s Designer Modeling works on the same major tenet as that of lean practices of any type: Keep things that are essential and eliminate those that are not. Probably the biggest thing that sets apart Designer Modeling from the competition is what the company calls “dynamic modeling,” based on a history-free design approach. Although not for everybody, this approach can provide some surprising benefits. I think it’s worth the time and space to briefly discuss some aspects of history-based vs. history-free modeling.

Today, the majority of mechanical CAD products are parametric, history-based applications. CoCreate’s OneSpace Designer Modeling is one of the few exceptions. Designer Modeling’s history-free architecture can make it easier to change 3D models without knowing how a design was originally created. Some users may not like the absence of the history at first, especially those who have experience and a comfort level with parametric, history-based systems. However, I think that just as many users will appreciate the shorter learning curve -- and likely, the faster design changes that are possible when you aren’t dealing with design history and the associated feature tree.

Parameters also can often apply the brakes to design changes. In parametric models, each entity, such as a line or an arc, has associated parameters. These parameters control the various geometric properties of the entity, such as the width and height of a rectangle or the radius of a fillet. They also control the locations of these entities within a part model.

Parameters (usually) can be changed to create a desired part for design optimization or to maintain original design intent -- although that’s a potential point of debate. History-based parametric modelers create and maintain a record of how a part model is built. When parameters in a model are changed and the model is regenerated, the CAD application repeats the operations from its history, using the new parameters, to create a new part model. An advantage of this type of modeling is that you can perform what-if scenarios to test various sizes of parts to determine which is best for a given purpose.

Parametric history-based modeling can be a powerful design method, but it is the more complicated method. Models created using it can be difficult or even impossible to work with, especially late in the design process, due to inherent dependencies. This is exactly where One Space Designer Modeling pays off for collaborative design teams that need to perform design changes without concern about constraints, parametrics and history-based feature trees.

Collaboration and Other Connections

Model Manager is CoCreate’s 3D PDM (product data management) side of the equation. With CoCreate’s, data can be exchanged between ERP systems (systems of record) and Model Manager (work in progress). In this new version, Model Manager supports Microsoft’s SQL Server 2005 (as well as Oracle) as the underlying database.

One of the most significant factors in your decision to consider and possibly choose OneSpace Designer Modeling is whether you can live without a parametric, history-based design method. If you work in a collaborative environment and deal with designs that require lots of unpredictable changes late in the game, or product designs that evolve rapidly, OneSpace Designer Modeling might be among the CAD products best suited for the way you work.

I’ll talk more about this and other aspects of CoCreate’s OneSpace 2006 product suite in a review to come in a future issue of Cadalyst magazine.

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